JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A former Smithfield detective and current school board member appeared in Johnston County court on Tuesday.
Board of Education member Ronald Johnson was indicted on extortion charges and three counts of willfully failing to discharge duties on Monday. His bond was set at $50,000.
Johnson did not speak during the court appearance.
He is facing numerous charges including felony extortion, related to an alleged attempt by Johnson to gain advantage over a rival for elected office, failure to discharge duties of his position on the Johnston County School Board, by recording a closed session of the board of education, not complying with a public records request, and attempting to have two special needs students transferred from Clayton High School.
The state called that an act of personal retaliation.
He's also charged with felony obstruction of justice, the state says, by removing evidence from a business when he became aware that he was under investigation.
Judge Thomas Locke listened as the attorneys discussed bond.
"They served search warrants on his house, and he stayed right here, and he owns that house. And he lives here. He's not going anywhere, so what are we trying to set a bond for, a flight risk? He's not going anywhere! He doesn't go anywhere," said Walter Schmidlin, the defense attorney.
Benjamin Zellinger with the North Carolina Department of Justice, said, "He doesn't have any sort of record of convictions, any history of flight. So I'll leave the bond to the court's discretion. I would ask for a secured bond, but I'll leave that to the court's discretion."
Johnson's bond is set at $50,000 unsecured.
Johnson's next scheduled court appearance will be in June, with the date and time to be set later.
The school board declined to comment on the criminal charges.
Instead, it released a statement: "The board wishes to express its continued commitment to governing the schools efficiently and effectively, consistent with all laws and policies."
Back in January, Johnson detailed possible unethical and potentially illegal activity in an explosive interview with the JoCo Report.